Decertification will cost players in the end

Eric McErlain Sports Blogger
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Fed up with making any more concessions to ownership, NBA players have walked away from the bargaining table and opted to begin the process of decertifying the National Basketball Players Association. As I pointed out a little less than two weeks ago, instead of watching basketball, fans of the NBA may be treated to nothing this season other than endless trips to courthouses in California and Minnesota as the labor dispute plays out in the federal courts.

If the players opt not to return to negotiations with owners, we could very well be writing off an entire season, much as was the case when the NHL locked out its players and canceled the entire 2004-05 season.

And if the players do go that route, I’m guessing that plenty of NBA owners won’t be terribly unhappy. It’s already well known that under the current collective bargaining agreement, plenty of NBA teams are bleeding cash, so much so that taking off an entire season will mean that a number of owners will actually be cutting their losses. To get a better insight into this sort of thinking, I delved back into the archives of Blogmaverick, the blog written by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Back in February 2005, Cuban wrote this missive to then-NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow right after NHL owners had canceled the entire hockey season:

Congratulations Bob Goodenow, President of the NHL Players Association. You turned down 30 teams paying what would probably average out to 35mm dollars in salary per team for this year. That’s more than $ 1,000,000,000.00 in cash that would have been paid to NHL players this year.

That’s 1 Billion dollars that NHL players will never, ever, ever collect. Because of you. That puts you in rarified air. All you had to do was come off your high and mighty no salary cap horse in July rather than February

What’s ironic is that a Billion dollars is more than NHL teams will earn collectively over the next 25 years, under any deal.

But he didn’t stop there:

The good news is that the NHL stuck to its guns. A strong financial foundation will make the league more viable in the short and long term. That will benefit NHL players far more than anything the NHLPA has done. Why was it so tough for Goodenow to realize that businesses that are at least breaking even can pay more money to more employees than businesses that are losing money?

If I were a betting man, I’m guess this might be the first time in a long time that NBA Commissioner David Stern and Cuban are actually in the same corner.

Eric McErlain blogs at Off Wing Opinion, a Forbes “Best of the Web” winner. In 2006 he wrote a “bloggers bill of rights” to help integrate bloggers into the Washington Capitals’ press box. Eric has also written for Deadspin, NBC Sports and the Sporting News, and covers sports television for The TV News. Follow Eric on Twitter.